Roundup: S.Korea puts blame on Japan for termination of military intelligence-sharing pact

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 23, 2019
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SEOUL, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's presidential Blue House put the blame on Japan Friday for the termination of the military intelligence-sharing pact between the two countries amid the ongoing trade spat and the controversy over historical issues.

Kim Hyun-chong, deputy director of the National Security Office (NSO) of the Blue House, told a press briefing that there was "no longer any justification" to maintain the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) as it was an agreement to exchange sensitive military intelligence based on "a high level of trust."

Seoul decided Thursday to end the GSOMIA, which was signed in November 2016 to share military intelligence on nuclear and missile programs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The GSOMIA had been automatically renewed each year in August. If either party wants to scrap the pact, the party will be required to notify the other of its intention 90 days ahead. This year's notification deadline falls on Aug. 24.

Kim said Japan took "unwarranted economic retaliation" against South Korea while claiming that the South Korean top court's ruling on the wartime forced labor victims ran counter to the 1965 treaty and violated international law.

Japan tightened regulations last month on its export to South Korea of three materials vital to manufacture memory chips and display panels, which are the mainstay of the South Korean export.

Earlier this month, Japan dropped South Korea off its whitelist of trusted trading partners that are given preferential export procedure. In response, Seoul took Tokyo off its whitelist of trusted export partners.

Japan's export curbs came in an apparent protest against the South Korean top court's ruling that ordered some of Japanese companies, including Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries among others, to pay compensations to the South Korean wartime forced labor.

Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans were forced by Imperial Japan into hard labor without pay during World War II. The Korean Peninsula was colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945.

Japan claimed that the forced labor issue was settled through the 1965 treaty that normalized diplomatic relations between South Korea and Japan after the colonial era, but Seoul said the treaty did not involve individuals' right to damages compensation.

Kim said the South Korean government adhered to the position that "crimes against humanity" perpetrated by the Japanese government and its military had not been resolved through the 1965 treaty.

The Blue House official noted that the director general of the treaties bureau of Japan's foreign ministry expressed the view in August 1991 that individual rights to claim damages had not been waived by the 1965 agreement.

The Japanese government demanded that the South Korean administration rectify the top court's ruling, but it was simply unimaginable in the country with the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers guaranteed, Kim noted.

"Thus far, the leadership in Japan has only resorted to its previous claims without seriously engaging in any dialogue and repeated its demands that (South) Korea must move first to rectify the situation," said Kim.

South Korea sent a high-level envoy to Japan twice in July and attempted in August to engage in consultation with a high-level official of the Japanese Prime Minister's Office through the South Korean ambassador to Japan, but to no avail, according to the Blue House official.

Seoul's trade ministry repeatedly requested consultations to its Japanese counterpart for discussion on trade issues, but those were rebuffed by Japan, while South Korean President Moon Jae-in reached out his hand to Japan through his speech on Aug. 15 for the Liberation Day to mark the peninsula's liberation from the Japanese colonial rule, Kim said.

South Korea informed Japan of the contents of the liberation day speech in advance, but Japan did not show any response, he noted. Enditem

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